Jesus’ Five Most Unbiblical Teachings
In the past 30 or so years there has been a concerted effort in Christian academia and even in some liberal Jewish circles to rehabilitate Jesus, the supposed founder of Christianity, to bring him back into the Jewish fold. This is being done, in part, to undo the effects of two millennia of Christian antisemitism and to create ecumenical bridges between Christians and Jews. On the other hand, among some Evangelicals and Messianics, the push to re-Judaize Jesus is spearheaded not only to prove that Christianity has its origins within Judaism but to prop up their belief that Jesus is indeed the Jewish “messiah”, one who taught very Jewish things but whom Jews have, nonetheless, failed to accept either because of their “blindness”, their “envy” or simply out of spite.
While the efforts to return Jesus to Judaism are certainly an improvement to the way Christianity historically treated the Jewish faith and the nation that practices it, I believe that they all miss a far bigger picture – why Jesus was rejected by the Jewish people in the first place? Why do Jews refuse to let him back in and spurn the religion founded in his name as avodah zarah (strange or foreign worship). There’s little doubt to most Jews that Jesus was once part of the Jewish world. Many of the teachings recorded in the New Testament reflect that Jesus have had great affinity with the first century Judaism’s Pharisaic branch and was well-versed in the Oral Law. He appears to have practiced the normative Judaism of his day, at least outwardly. So far so good. This makes it easy to overlook that it was some of the other things that Jesus taught to his disciples that made him downright antithetical to the Hebrew Bible, Judaism and the Jewish people.
Here are the five of these unbiblical teachings of Jesus and New Testament that exposed him as a false teacher and earned him Israel’s rejection:
1. Jesus was claimed to be divine (god)
The synoptic gospels (Mark, Mathews and Luke) do not outright stay that Jesus is god or divine, but they do include statements that strongly imply that. The gospel of Luke, for example, makes a claim that G-d Himself will “overshadow” (impregnate) a human virgin Mary and the product of this union between divine and mortal will be the “Son of God” (Luke 1:35). The pagan readers of this gospel, already well acquainted with their own gods coming down to earth, consorting with and impregnating human virgins in their respective religious myths, would readily recognize that the product of such a union would be a demigod, or man-god with supernatural powers.
New Testament makes a claim that when Jesus miraculously calmed the sea and the wind, his supposedly monotheistic Jewish disciples (who were with him in the same boat) exclaimed:
“What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (Matthew 8:27).
The strong suggestion here is that Jesus is more than a man. The New Testament scribes, however did not stop at that. Next, we are informed that when Jesus was walking on water, the disciples could no longer hold back their worship of him as divine:
“And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” (Matthew 14:33)
Of course, the TaNaKh (the “Old Testament”) also records various miracles performed by Moses and many of the prophets, miracles far greater than those which the New Testament attributes to Jesus, controlling nature on grandiose scale in front of the audience of millions (including “non-believers”, i.e. folks Jesus normally refused to perform in front of) and even raising the dead (e.g. Elijah), but it did not enter the minds of the Jews witnessing those awesome events to worship either Moses or the prophets, to proclaim them as “divine”, to give them praise due to G-d alone. They understood that to do that would be idolatry. Apparently this fact has escaped the minds of Christians (and certainly those of them who penned the New Testament).
There are many other instances in the New Testament where “godhood” is being claimed on Jesus’s behalf, such as Hebrews 1:6, with its blatant distortion of the Jewish scriptures (see Psalm 97:7):
“And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.””
The Jewish people rejected all such claims made by Christianity as an outright idolatry. The Jews, G-d proclaims through prophet Isaiah, are the witnesses to the way G-d truly is; they know that there’s nobody else besides Him, that G-d can’t ever be seen as a physical form (since G-d warned in Deuteronomy 4:15 that this would lead to idolatry – as evidenced by Roman and Eastern Christianity’s abundant statues and icons of Jesus and worship of the Christian man-god within Protestantism), and that there’s no savior or rock besides the G-d of Israel as He already revealed Himself to the Jewish people when they left Egypt:
Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” (Isaiah 44:8)
2. Jesus claimed he can forgive all sins
The claim that Jesus alone has the power to forgive our sins is the cornerstone of Christianity. In Matthew 9:6 Jesus declares:
“The Son of man has the authority on earth to forgive sins”
The New Testament makes a claim that since Jesus supposedly had the ability to perform miracles, that proves that he had the right to forgive sins as well:
“Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”Then the man got up and went home. (Matthew 9:5-7)
Does the ability or claim to perform miracles give someone the right to forgive sins against G-d? The Bible warns us that whoever does a miracle but then teaches something contrary to what G-d has revealed (which, first and foremost, would include Jesus allowing himself to be worshiped by men as god), is a false prophet:
If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The L-rd your G-d is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the L-rd your G-d you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the L-rd your G-d, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the L-rd your G-d commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5)
Judaism teaches that only G-d and G-d alone can forgive sins committed against Him. Only G-d has such power and He never relinquished this right to anyone:
“See now that I myself am he! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand.” (Deuteronomy 32:39)
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. (Micah 7:18)
Furthermore, Judaism teaches (e.g. Talmud, Yoma 8:9) that sins against other people can only be forgiven by the victims themselves, not a third party (e.g. Jesus).
3. Jesus taught that evil people shouldn’t be resisted
In one of his iconic teachings, Jesus proclaimed that, contrary to what his audience heard before, they should now do as follows when abused by an evil person:
“Offer the wicked man no resistance. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well” (Matthew 5:38-39)
This pacifist teaching (which also included nonresistance against enemy forces, as exemplified in Matthew 5:41, which enjoins readers to carry the gear of Roman soldiers even farther than what the Roman law demanded) goes against the Torah command that instructs the Jewish people to directly confront evil, lest it spread and affect the rest of the community:
“You shall burn the evil out from your midst” (Deuteronomy 17:7)
As Rabbi Joseph Telushkin wrote in his commentary on the above statement, “America’s survival in the Second World War came about only because almost all American Christians rejected Jesus’ advice to “resist not evil”.
Gandhi, who greatly admired Jesus and sought to emulate his pacifism in the face of evil and injustice at the hands of persecutors, offered the following advice to Jews then in the midst of the Holocaust:
“If I were a Jew and were born in Germany … I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest gentile German may, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon. … And suffering voluntarily undergone will bring them an inner strength and joy. … The calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities. But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant.”
4. Jesus claimed that without him people can’t come to G-d
One of the most egregious teachings of Jesus to Jewish minds has to be his insistence that people can only have access to G-d through him and him alone:
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
Not only that, Jesus claimed that Jews can’t even know G-d, except through him:
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)
Of course, Judaism rejects such teaching, insist that people can come close to G-d, as long as they do so with all their heart:
“The L-rd is near to all who call Him, to all who call Him with sincerity.” (Psalm 145:18)
No only that, Jews knew since the days of Moses that the G-d of Israel is already close to them, only a prayer away:
What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the L-rd our G-d is near us whenever we pray to him? (Deuteronomy 4:7)
Did t he people of Israel understand and know G-d before Jesus came along? Of course! The righteous of Israel were told to only boast that they know and understand G-d (no Jesus required):
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
5. Jesus distorted Torah commandments
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that NOTHING that enters a person from the outside can defile them? (Mark 7:18)
Whether Jesus actually said this himself or this was a later distortion by a church scribe who sought to elevate “spiritual Christianity” above “carnal Judaism”, Jesus’ words directly contradict Torah’s command:
‘Every creature that moves along the ground is to be regarded as unclean; it is not to be eaten. You are not to eat any creature that moves along the ground, whether it moves on its belly or walks on all fours or on many feet; it is unclean. Do not defile yourselves by any of these creatures. Do not make yourselves unclean by means of them or be made unclean by them. I am the L-rd your G-d; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves along the ground. I am the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your G-d; therefore be holy, because I am holy. (Leviticus 11:41-45)
Although Jesus was a Jew, these five unbiblical teachings of Jesus will forever brand him, in Jewish eyes, as a false teacher, false prophet and an abominable idol of the nations, permanently preventing him from returning back to the Jewish fold.